The Stevens’ Handbook of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
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How is it that we know what a dog and a tree are, or, for that matter, what knowledge is? Our semantic memory consists of knowledge about the world, including concepts, facts and beliefs. This knowledge is essential for recognizing entities and objects, and for making inferences and predictions about the world. In essence, our semantic knowledge determines how we understand and interact with the world around us. In this chapter, we examine semantic memory from cognitive, sensorimotor, cognitive neuroscientific, and computational perspectives. We consider the cognitive and neural processes (and biases) that allow people to learn and represent concepts, and discuss how and where in the brain sensory and motor information may be integrated to allow for the perception of a coherent “concept”. We suggest that our understanding of semantic memory can be enriched by considering how semantic knowledge develops across the lifespan within individuals.